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(Good) corporate governance and the strategic integration of meso ethics


  • Steven H. Appelbaum
  • Louis Vigneault
  • Edward Walker
  • Barbara T. Shapiro


Purpose - The primary goal of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review of meso ethics from a corporate governance perspective, and the strategic process of integration between corporate and individual ethics for the creation of an ethical culture. A secondary aim is to identify the organizational behavior variables that are affected by the ethical congruence between employee ethics and the prevailing corporate ethical climate. Design/methodology/approach - By first situating organizational ethics within the broader phenomenon of business ethics, the authors then more aptly examine corporate ethics at the upper and lower permeable meso boundaries where a shared ethic is negotiated. This conceptual paper tries to capture through a phenomenological approach how strategic governance level (macro) and individual ethics (micro) interact in a complex and dynamic way at the organizational level (meso). Findings - Normative literature suggests that organizations require more than ethical safeguards to ensure ethical conduct. For example, ethics training programs are demanded and perceived as effective by employees. Recent empirical studies on “ethical fit” have converged and support the assertion that it is in an organization's best interest to continually look for ethical congruence between their workforce and the ethical climate that they intentionally foster. Furthermore, these studies show that perceived ethical congruence positively affects an individual's affective commitment to an organization, and reduces turnover intent. Research limitations/implications - There is a general lack of consensus, cohesion and empiricism in the current literature. Few studies deal with meso ethics, which have wide-ranging implications for current and future research. Practical implications - Demand for business ethics is on the rise as is its corporate response commonly defined as corporate social responsibility (CSR). Standard responsive measures taken by executives are shown to generally be unsubstantiated or insufficient for ethical conduct to truly take root in an organization. Originality/value - The scope of the paper, with its phenomenological approach, identifies the complexities of corporate ethics for academics and managers alike, where traditionally fragmented organizational levels are herein understood to be permeable and dynamic. The meso perspective of this study provides a new foundation for the study of corporate ethics. Its phenomenological approach provides a conceptual common ground and facilitates convergence in the field. Moreover, the conceptual framework of this paper can enable practitioners to formulate the appropriate strategic intent and governance strategy for their organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven H. Appelbaum & Louis Vigneault & Edward Walker & Barbara T. Shapiro, 2009. "(Good) corporate governance and the strategic integration of meso ethics," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 5(4), pages 525-539, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:5:y:2009:i:4:p:525-539

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